Social Service “Cartilla”

Gender roles

Gender and history

The Social Service was a sort of female ‘military service’, organized and run by the Women’s Section of the Falange political party. It was compulsory except for married women, widows, nuns and young women with eight single siblings. A certificate of completion for the service, signed and stamped by the corresponding provincial office, was essential to obtain a job in the public administration, a passport, a driving licence or any type of school diploma. During the Civil War, or in the words of the narrator of the NO-DO newsreel for 1 January 1965, ‘at the height of the crusade for freedom’.

Both the Military Service and the Social Service legitimized the roles which the patriarchal system assigned to men – strength, authority – and women – sensitivity, care. The Franco regime thus ensured that the entire population would serve ‘the Fatherland and the State’, offering up their ‘finest abilities’. At the same time, it consolidated and disseminated the 19th-century gender stereotypes which it sought to re-establish following the brief and inconclusive interruption represented by the Second Republic as regards the ideal of a woman.

Link to a NO-DO newsreel on the Social Service (1 Jan 1965):